A Wiltshire getaway: Chippenham and Castle Combe

A mere 86 miles from London, the historic market town of Chippenham is worth a day trip from the UK capital. Actually, why not making it a weekend getaway and visit some of the Cotswolds too?

Great Western Railway trains and National Express coaches connect London to Chippenham with several options a day and a travel time of 75 minutes (train) or 2-2.5 hours (coach). Reasonably priced accommodation is available too, so are restaurants of different cuisines.

Chippenham Old Town has a nice vibe and features many historic buildings in the traditional Cotswold stone as well as half-timbered houses. The 15th century Yelde Hall is a Grade listed timbered structure with twin gables. Now part of the museum, this fine building was used as a town hall until 1841.

On Fridays and Saturdays the High Street is taken over by the street market, with traditional and modern stalls.

Visiting Castle Combe

Chippenham is a gateway to the southern part of the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty

If you only have time for one excursion, I’d recommend heading to Castle Combe. Bus 95 will take you there from Chippenham in less than 30 minutes. Incidentally, I tried walking the route but gave up half way, tired of dodging cars and trucks along a busy B road with no pavement or pedestrian safe area!

Castle Combe is your picture perfect quintessentially English village. Often defined the prettiest village in England, it has been the set of numerous movies and TV series, from “Doctor Dolittle” to “The Wolfman” to Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” to the “Downtown Abbey” series. Well, it’s easy to see why!

It is really pretty, houses are made of the typical honey coloured Cotswold stone and if you stand by the 14th century Market Cross where the three main streets meet you’ll get a nice 360° view of the picturesque village.

Just by the Market Cross is the Parish Church of St Andrew, a Grade I listed building, which dates back mainly to the 15th century. Inside it features a medieval faceless clock, a Norman memorial and stained glass windows.

A stroll around the small village doesn’t take long yet it offers many opportunities to spot windows with beautifully arranged decorations, old village signs, and cake sales at people’s front doors.

The Manor House Hotel, with its beautiful garden in Italian style, dates back to the 17th century although it was mostly rebuilt in the 19th century. It is listed as Grade II building.

And if you wonder why you hear the roaring sound of racing cars all around, it’s because south of the upper part of the village lies the Castle Combe Race Circuit. If you walk there from the Market Cross you’ll also be able to enjoy the beautiful countryside.

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